OSAGE CITY—After a second viewing, the Osage City Council approved new sewer rates at the April 22 regular meeting.
Ordinance 1577 set the base sewer rate at $9.37 per month for all users, with a fee of $3.24/1,000 gallon of water used for residential customers and $3.71/1,000 gallons for commercial and industrial users, as of April 15, 2014.
On April 15, 2015, the rates will increase to $11.71 with $4.05/1,000 gallons for residential and $4.64/1,000 for business customers. In 2016, the rates will increase to $12.53 with $4.33/1,000 for residential and $4.96/1,000 for businesses. The base rate will climb to $13.16 in 2017, $13.68 in 2018 and $14.09 in 2019. The new rates were approved, with council members Bruce Schoepflin and Rob Rowe dissenting.
The council continued sewer discussion with discussion of the basement drain removal policy, a user incentive that pays up to $500 toward their removal. The city is working toward solutions to the need for larger lagoons and possible fines from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment due to overflows during storm events.
“We talked about expanding the scope to including private property,” said Mike Gilliland, city utilities director. “A lot of those infiltrations are on private property. As it stands right now, the only incentive we have to a homeowner is this policy.”
The city has scheduled smoke testing to find problems in the system, such as storm drains and leaking lines, many of which are suspected to be on the private lines connecting residences to the city lines.
“If we broaden this to personal sewer systems, that’s going to bring up problems,” said Schoepflin. “If we have something written down we can offer homeowners, they’ll be more apt to do it.”
“We’ve identified this is a problem,” said mayor Quinton Robert. “We know it’s an issue.”
The incentive currently applies to the removal of basement floor drains and installation of back-flow valves.
“If we did nothing but raise the value to what it was when we establish it initially, that would help,” Gilliland said. “What I had in mind is if there was some way we could increase.”
Gilliland suggesting an increased amount that would assist anyone in repairing lateral connection lines to the sewer. Cracked clay tile systems with leaks are suspected to be the primary cause of storm water entering the system.
“If we don’t do something, our system is not in compliance,” Gilliland said. “It’s getting overrun by flood events, and we feel like a good share of the problem is not in our system.”
With inflation taken into account, the assistance originally offered would be around $750. Gilliland suggested a rate of $1,000 with the broader definition.
“I don’t think $1,000 is unreasonable,” said council member Edward Berends. “If we have to build bigger lagoons…that’d get extremely expensive.”
“I’m all for this, but where would that money come from?” asked Stromgren. “We just raised everything there is to raise.”
It was suggested to place a cap on the ammount of money spent on the fund annually. Gilliland was directed to present a plan for discussion at the May work session.
In other business, the council:
• received the city’s annual audit report from Neil Phillips, of Jared, Gillmore & Phillips, PA. Phillips presented the city’s financial figures for the $1,139,000 budget as accurate and materially correct, “a good representation of what happened with the city over the year.” The city had two budgetary violations in the bond and interest fund and the water fund, each going over their funded amounts. The city started the year with $9,177,000 of debt, and reduced that figure to $8.8 million.
Council member Duane Peroo asked if audit figures could be presented early next year to allow review prior to the presentation.
• voted to replace the street department’s front end loader, which has 2,000 hours of use and has exceeded its five-year warranty. Purchase Caterpillar 924K loader for $96,000 with trade-in from Foley Equipment Company, Topeka, with Schoepflin and Rowe dissenting.
• accepted Jim Jackson’s bid to replace pillars at Union Cemetery for $7,557.80, with Rowe dissenting.
• appointed Dennis Combs to represent Osage City at the 2014 Kansas Municipal Utilities board. Combs was also appointed as the second position on the Kansas Municipal Energy Association board.
• unanimously approved the revised fair board agreement, following the Osage City Fair Board’s approval of the agreement at its last meeting. The board will wait until after the fair to replace the livestock arenas, and is still looking for someone to remove the existing buildings.
• received an update of city lake dredging, which is set to begin immediately, according to Gilliland.